the last republic

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

the world defies our choices and our rage

in the republic of the wholly damned

 

we spoke and then our thoughts were truly slammed

by those who said that with keen words on page

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

 

the metre’s right and the line’s not enjambed

yet all we get is a poor poet’s wage

in the republic of the wholly damned

 

since for the moment the signal’s not jammed

so that the the enemy cannot engage

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

 

until they burst and our dead corpses rammed

into the the dullest moments of the age

in the republic of the wholly dammed

 

by those who thought that the most decent shammed

their honest words and strutted on a stage

our hearts with humour and with pain are crammed

in the republic of the wholly dammed

a universal rite

we fall so far that the first sign of light

awakens us to shaking and to pain

not ready but we face it all again

there was no comfort in the arms of night

we got it wrong so gelid is our plight

yet these are things that no one need explain

each is quite normal not a one’s arcane

for suffering’s a universal rite

what each must do is take up the hard load

of human courage as if it were new

and clasp it tightly without much regret

accept that this is one rough stony road

that comes with  sorrow and no good long view

and all is paid with labour and cold sweat

The National Gallery at Forty

National Gallery of Jamaica Blog

The National Gallery of Jamaica is the oldest and largest public art museum in the English-speaking Caribbean and opened its doors, originally at historic Devon House, on November 14, 1974 and the Gallery will thus be celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year. Much has happened since the Gallery first opened and the fortieth anniversary provides us with an opportunity to remember and celebrate; to reflect on what has been achieved, and what is left to be done; and in doing all of this, to plot the most productive future trajectories.

Devon House was a beautiful and popular location but the National Gallery quickly outgrew these premises, because of its expanding collections and exhibition programme. The Gallery thus moved to its present, much larger and modern premises on the Kingston Waterfront in 1982 and while there have been plans for a new National Gallery building, our present location has become our

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a new century

a century ago the world began

in blood and pain the auguries were wild

so many things have changed in a short span

 

my father’s world the currents overran

there was no time for words or thoughts too mild

a century ago the world began

 

we have to choose which of the screens to scan

it is too easy to become beguiled

so many things have changed in a short span

 

and we are all entranced woman and man

by all the facts that overcome the child

a century ago the world began

 

two shots and then the faeces struck the fan

for all mankind none would be reconciled

so many things have changed in a short span

 

the light itself has been placed under ban

and all that once was purest been defiled

a century ago the world began

so many things have changed in a short span

the victor’s tale

to those who wait there is no better name

in the wide oceans for the coming wild

giving us hope when all we had was shame

 

our fathers left us heritage of blame

although their rule was temperate and mild

to those who wait there is no better name

 

except perhaps the trumpet cry of fame

though that by wise folk is sometimes reviled

giving us hope when all we had was shame

 

the thought of danger puts us in the frame

yet for our good we left the hearth exiled

to those who wait there is no better name

 

for hero but we find the story lame

and punish those we thought might just have smiled

giving us hope when all we had was shame

 

since now we learn the whole thing is a game

and the best player no more than a child

to those who wait there is no better name

giving us hope when all we had was shame

cancelled bill

some mention made then must the silence fall

upon the envies that have held us late

within the barrier lacking all freight

of decency or commerce but the tall

protectors of our honour lightly call

on such devotion as the wise relate

in their long histories and we do not state

a better truth the pain belongs to all

so what is earned after the sacrifice

no one regards as worthy of our toil

since it has fallen from no awesome height

but rather we are told that the full price

is not a matter for complaint or broil

but can be settled in a day and night

about democracy

what meanings truth and justice had

we’ve understood and will not pass

that bill was paid at stalingrad

 

(not the first time) and we are glad

to see reflected in the glass

what meanings truth and justice had

 

in eyes that are forever sad

seeing the bones beneath the grass

that bill was paid at stalingrad

 

for generations good and bad

by that immense levée-en-masse

(what meanings truth and justice had)

 

so demos spoke and thus forbade

the foolish claims of herrenrass

that bill was paid at stalingrad

 

so many folk might think us mad

to speak of mankind as one class

what meanings truth and justice had

that bill was paid at stalingrad